Sunday, August 19, 2007

My version of the Analyze an Arguemnt task of GRE

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument.

"The University of Claria is generally considered one of the best universities in the world because of its instructors' reputation, which is based primarily on the extensive research and publishing record of certain faculty members. In addition, several faculty members are internationally renowned as leaders in their fields. For example, many of the faculty from the English department are regularly invited to teach at universities in other countries. Furthermore, two recent graduates of the physics department have gone on to become candidates for the Nobel Prize in Physics. And 75 percent of the students are able to find employment after graduating. Therefore, because of the reputation of its faculty, the University of Claria should be the obvious choice for anyone seeking a quality education."

My response :

University of Claria (UC) may be generally considered one of the best universities in the world. The author has gone at length to claim the superiority of the university and in this process has made a number of unsubstantiated claims that might belie the actual credibility of the university as a good place to study. Moreover, she has boldly concluded that UC has to be the obvious choice for anyone seeking a quality education.

It is of utmost importance to first of all ascertain the correctness of the statement that "UC is generally on of the best universities". Are there any previous statistical studies that put UC in the top universities list? What does the author mean by saying 'general'? This is a strong but vague and unsubstantiated statement.

The author then goes on to reason that UC is among the 'best' by saying that it has instructors of good reputation based on research and publishing record. Are these factors sufficient to title an instructor whether he/she is of good reputation or not? Don't we have to consider whether the instructors are good teachers? What if all the paper-producing geniuses of UC have nightmares while facing the students?

Thirdly, the author states that several faculty members are internationally renowned as leaders in their fields. But what consitutes 'several'? Instead of this term, it would be reasonable to give a rough percentage of the faculty members who are leaders. Moreover, saying that they are renowned as the leaders in their fields is a fuzzy description. A faculty member may be termed as leader based on the contributions he has made to the field. Further reasoning by the author would severly benefit her arguement, which is missing.

Fourthly, the author has considered only two departments in her examples - English and Physics. What about the other deparments? Do the other departments have excellent faculties just like English deparment. Yet another question to ask is whether these faculties are available for the students in the home university at all? What if they are busy in going around the globe? It is commendable that two recent physics graduates have been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics. But are the other students of different deparments win such high-value laurels? And moreover, is this a trend that has been continuing for a long time or is it that this is the first time that two alumni have been lauded? The analysis is missing in breadth (in terms of various departments) and the depth (in terms of the time).

Finally, the author of the above argument, is providing a valuable data - that 75% of the students are able to find employement after graduating. But what is the significance of this figure "75%" ? Is it high enough when compared to other universities? What if normally many of the universities produce more than 95% employment rate? And the data about whether the students are employed in the firms of their choice has to be furnished.

Despite the number of flaws in her argument, the author would well benefit by substantiating her claims with facts. She must give results of any statistical ranking surveys and the position of UC in those surveys. Also, a discussion about the performance of instructors and students of all the deparments of the university, and a detailed analysis of the placement results of the students would be a welcome change in considering whether UC is the obvious choice for anyone seeking a quality education.

The response that got 6/6:

While the University of Claria appears to have an excellent reputation based on the accomplishments and reputations of its faculty, one would also wish to consider other issues before deciding upon this particular institution for undergraduate or graduate training. The Physics and English departments are internationally known, but these are only two of the areas in which one might study. Other departments are not listed; is this because no others are worth mentioning, or because no other departments bothered to turn in their accomplishments and kudos to the publicity office?

The assumption is that because English and Physics have excellent brains in the faculty offices, their teaching skills and their abilities to pass on knowledge and the love of learning to their students are equally laudable. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. A prospective student would certainly be advised to investigate thoroughly the teaching talents and attitudes of the professors, the library and research facilities, the physical plant of the departments in which he or she was planning to study, as well as the living arrangements on or off campus, and the facilities available for leisure activities and entertainment.

This evaluation of the University of Claria is too brief, and too general. Nothing is mentioned about the quality of overall education; it only praises the accomplishments of a few recent graduates and professors. More important than invitations to teach elsewhere, which might have been engineered by their own departmental heads in an attempt to remove them from the campus for a semester or two, is the relationship between teacher and student. Are the teaching faculty approachable? Are they helpful? Have they an interest in passing on their knowledge? Are they working for the future benefit of the student or to get another year closer to retirement? How enthusiastic are the students about the courses being taught and the faculty members who teach those classes? Are there sufficient classes available for the number of students? Are the campus buildings accessible; how is the University handling all those cars? Is the University a pleasant, encouraging, interesting, challenging place to attend school? What are its attitudes about education, students, student ideas and innovations, faculty suggestions for improvement?

What about that 75% employment record? Were those students employed in the field of their choice, or are they flipping burgers and emptying wastebaskets while they search for something they are trained to do. A more specific statement about the employability of students from this University is needed in order to make the argument forceful.

The paragraph given merely scratches the surface of what must be said about this University in order to entice students and to convince them that this is the best place to obtain a quality education. Much more work is needed by the public relations department before this can be made into a four-color brochure and handed out to prospective students.

The response that got 1/6 :)

Is true that University of Claria is generally consider one of the best university in world. Because instructors reputations. Because research and publishing record. Because teach in other countries. Because win Nobel prizes. Because find empolyment after graduating. But other school good just as Claria. Can be little money. Can be good teachers too.


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